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Margaret McCulloch and Jackie Fitzpatrick smiling with microphones

Story project collects experiences from Stanford Medicine patients, families and staff

Stanford Storybank, organized by Stanford Health Care, collects 40-minute audio stories from patients and members of the Stanford Medicine community.

The recipe for the new Stanford Storybank calls for two people, microphones, recording equipment and 40 minutes. Put them all in a room and, voilà, a story is born.

The project, organized by Stanford Health Care, is a partnership with StoryCorps, a national organization that collects audio conversations. Stanford Health Care shares its stories -- which include patients, staff and families -- on SoundCloud and an internal website, and, eventually they will be catalogued in the U.S. Library of Congress.

One story features an interaction between Margaret McCulloch, shown at left in the photo above, and her friend Jackie Fitzpatrick, at right. They met more than a decade ago when their children were in the same kindergarten class. Six years ago, Fitzpatrick was diagnosed with stage-4 breast cancer.

An Inside Stanford Medicine article captured some of their conversation:

'The one thing that cancer has given me is a clear, concise view on my family and what's important to me,' Fitzpatrick continued. 'I made amends with people I needed to make amends with. It's a blessing. It's been a difficult journey, but it's kind of worth it.'

The two laughed about how Fitzpatrick's hair grew back white after a round of chemotherapy and she looked like Annie Lennox. 'I kind of had fun with it,' she said.

Turning serious, she asked McCulloch, 'What's it like for you? I sometimes think it's harder for the people not going through it.'

'Sometimes I think that I'm weak. I want to make you better, but I can't,' McCulloch confessed.

The pair described the experience as cathartic. "I really want to provide hope to people in the same situations," Fitzpatrick said.

Other patient stories can be found on SoundCloud.

Photo by Paul Sakuma

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